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Time on the Tormek only makes it faster and more effective.
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Tormek SuperGrind 2006 Review - Update

Age demonstrates the true value

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

Posted - 6-6-2006

When I first brought the Tormek SuperGrind into my shop, I was amazed with it. The ability to sharpen turning tools so precisely, especially after struggling for so long with a lesser machine, nearly made me giddy. Recognizing that, I had nagging misgivings about the tone of my review; in particular, had I overstated the impact or capabilities of the machine?

   Now, with several months of day-to-day use under my belt, it is time to revisit the Tormek SuperGrind review.

   Experience with the Tormek SuperGrind has done nothing to lessen my enthusiasm for its performance. If anything, my tools have sharper edges now than I was able to obtain when the first review was written, but only slightly so. I have learned that the learning curve on the Tormek SuperGrind is short. The machine is so simple to use, surprisingly little time is needed to become familiar with it. The instruction manual quickly teaches new owners how to use the Tormek SuperGrind and related jigs properly right from the start.        

Using the Instant Replication Method makes touching up bowl gouges, and other tools, VERY fast!
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   The most noticeable improvement in the use of the Tormek SuperGrind is in the amount of time needed to sharpen or freshen a cutting edge. Experience in setting the angle or using the Instant Replication Method speeds the process somewhat, as does learning to recognize that the edge is sharp. When I first began using the Tormek SuperGrind, I assumed it would take longer than it does to refine the cutting edge. The speed at which you can sharpen a tool or freshen a cutting edge takes a little getting used to.

   In the original review, I thought the Tormek SuperGrind had improved my woodturning through sharper tools. While that was, and remains true, I underestimated the scope of the improvement. The Tormek SuperGrind has impacted my work throughout the shop in the form of chisels and plane irons that now work far better than ever before. Consequently, these tools are used more frequently and more appropriately because they do the job they were intended to do, and do it far more easily than before.  

Simple block planes, sharpened on my Tormek, now shave thin ribbons of wood, leaving a very smooth surface behind.
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  My jointer cuts cleaner and faster than it ever has after the blades were sharpened once on the Tormek SuperGrind. Incidentally, I found that the jointer blades either had distorted during use or were never sharpened consistently when manufactured. A few passes on the Tormek SuperGrind showed the variation in the cutting edge; a few more passes corrected that problem.

   Perhaps the most significant impact has been at the lathe, primarily because I use the Tormek SuperGrind most frequently to sharpen turning tools. Being able to maintain sharp edges and consistent bevel angles has allowed me to concentrate on refining my tool technique rather than compensate for variable sharpness and constantly changing bevel angles.

   The consistently sharp edges and clean bevels leave a very smooth surface on the wood when the tools are presented at the proper angle. Get the angle wrong and the surface of the wood looks very different, making it clear you are doing something wrong.

The stone wheel has been surprising in how little wear it shows despite being used often. I had already worn out a 10" stone by this time on another sharpening machine. Click image to enlarge.

   During the past months, the Tormek SuperGrind and jigs have continued to perform flawlessly. The machine remains whisper quiet and smooth while operating.

   What is most surprising is that despite considerable use, the original stone wheel shows very little wear or loss of diameter. I have only had to "true" the surface once despite using it frequently.

   The leather honing wheel and the shaped-leather wheel both remain effective and show no wear or damage. A little oil added occasionally keeps them from drying out. I have also found that the grinding compound, though not visible after application, remains effective through many uses.

   After extended use, I can say without reservation that the impact of the Tormek SuperGrind throughout my shop has been and continues to be very positive. My turning tools show virtually no material loss despite repeated sharpening, extending their useful life far beyond what I could have expected with my previous sharpening methods.

   Another important benefit is that less of the little time I have in the shop is wasted sharpening tools. I go to the Tormek SuperGrind, freshen the edge and get back to the job at hand far quicker than in the past.

   When I wrote the original Tormek SuperGrind review I thought it was the best sharpening system available. While that remains my opinion, having used it in the day-to-day operation of my shop, the value of this investment has become very clear. Using the Tormek SuperGrind proves that buying the best the first time is the most effective way to save money in the long run.

See the original review of the Tormek SuperGrind.

See the list of Tormek jig reviews.

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